Parenting mistakes are easily made. I see them all around me and more importantly, I live them daily as a mother of 3. I fall victim to doing too many things for my children simply to speed them along. I am writing this important PSA a mother of three children (ages 2, 4 and 7). I am also writing this as a teacher. I come to you with experience as a preschool teacher, as well as a language inclusion teacher who has worked with grades K-5. Everything I write is applicable to ALL of these ages, and beyond. Don’t get defensive, hear me out. And when you’re ready, repeat the following mantras with me.
Parenting Mistake#1: Kids can’t carry their backpack
What if I told you I’ve watched parents of 4th grade students with a Star Wars backpack slung over their shoulders. 4th grade. Not the student but the PARENT. Are you honestly telling me you don’t think a 10-year old can carry their own backpack? They can. And they should. And they MUST.
YES, your tiny human is small now, but he won’t be forever and habits form quickly. Empower your child to carry their own backpack. Give them lots of praise and excitement to let them know you’re proud of them. My two-year old has watched her older siblings carry their “pack packs”themselves and she too wants in on that feeling of accomplishment. I may take the bulk out for her (since the backpack itself is larger than her little body), but I let her wear her own backpack so she knows she CAN.
Say it with me: I will NOT carry my child’s backpack. Never. It is not my backpack. It is not my job.
Parenting Mistake #2: Children Can’t be Responsible
Maybe you have a mud room, maybe you have lockers, maybe you have hooks, maybe you have a front door that immediately spills into your living room. Whatever your entryway space, whatever your system, your kids can help. Don’t get caught in the habit of letting them drop it like it’s hot upon entering the door only to add this to your ever growing to do list. Just as you put your shoes and coat in a spot, your kids can follow your lead.
Additionally, when it is age appropriate why not teach them to make simple breakfast choices themselves? Why not show them how to bathe themselves properly? Why not let them put their folded laundry away in their drawer to introduce them to laundry duty?
Say it with me: I will NOT pick everything up for my child. They are capable if they are taught.
Parenting Mistake #3: Kids Can’t Clean
Removing plates, cups, silverware and napkins from the table is a little act for them, but a big help to you! Just this morning, my one-year old happily carried her sippy cup out to the kitchen after breakfast, smiling along the way. She WANTED to be a “big helper” (her words), and a “big girl” (also her words). I would be a fool not to embrace it. YES, there may be spills. Plan accordingly and start small. They CAN do this and SO CAN YOU.
Say it with me: When dinner is done, I will allow my child to help be a part of cleaning up after the meal.
Parenting Mistake #4: Kids Can’t Zip
Parenting Mistake #5: Their boogers Are NOT Your business
Yes, you’re a mom. Yes, your #1 job as a mom is your child’s safety, health, and well being. Yes, you will need to help them in this area for a few years. As soon as they can possibly grasp the concept however, have them start working on the nose blowing process independently. It might be messy and boogs may fly in a direction you don’t intend (including but not limited to their mouths, or worse yet, YOUR mouth). The sooner they learn, the better off they (and YOU) will be.
Say it with me mama: Those aren’t my boogers. These boogers belong to someone else. I will help them learn to get their own boogers out of their nose, so their boogers aren’t MY responsibility when they are 10.
You got this mama! No matter their age, you can always help them spread those wings.